This three-credit course will explore regional Louisiana foodways, starting with geographic, historic, and environmental influences on the contemporary food culture of the state. Additional topics include the importance of cultural blending in Louisiana's regional culture, local food practices and beliefs in public and private spheres, the myriad nuances of Cajun and Creole identities in Louisiana, and the impact of tourists and tourism marketing on cultural practices. Special emphasis will be placed on the food culture of New Orleans and its immediate surroundings. Students will conduct basic food-related fieldwork, record their experiences, sample iconic Louisiana foods, listen to food-related local music, analyze cultural materials raging from cookbooks to food festivals, as well as participate in a communal meal as a conclusion to the course, Designed as a humanistic approach to the anthropology of food, this class will combine primary sources and scholarly writings with first-hand experiences engaging all five senses. While students will gather empirical evidence of local foodways, the bulk of the course will employ analytic and critical approaches to the topic.
By the conclusion of this course, students will:
1. Understand geographic, historic, and environmental influences on regional food culture.
2. Apply the techniques of participant-observation to the study of foodways.
3. Employ basic theoretical and conceptual tools to examine the relationships between food and culture throughout Louisiana.
Five assignments are required for a total of 200 possible points.
30% Food Diary: Each student will record ALL foods/drink consumed over a seven day period and write a 750-word personal reflection on the journaling experience. (60 points)
10% Recipe Sharing: each student will select an informant to observe as he/she prepares a culinary specialty of personal significance; student will record the recipe as well as the informant's rationale for its significance. (20 points)
20% Festival Food Field Notes: students will attend a local festival and take detailed field notes on the food components of the festival. (40 pints)
30% Cookbook Analysis: students will select a compiled, community cookbook from Louisiana using the Newcomb Women's Center cookbook collection and complete a written analysis of the chosen book. (60 points)
10% Class Potluck Feast: students will attend a class potluck dinner and contribute a Louisiana food item/dish, along with a 250 word essay describing the item/dish’s cultural relevance and brief oral in-class presentation. (20 points)
Reading will contain selections from journals, books and other sources. Our two required books are these.
The instructor for the class is a frequent contributor to the New Orleans Chowhound board, Hungry Celeste. She will bring food each class for us to try. This week she brought in boudin noir (blood sausage) from Bourgeois Meat Market. Our instructor asked what folks thought of it. One girl described it as "grainy" and "moist". I didn't try it since I am pescatarian. Hopefully we will have some less meaty samples.
Our instructor had cut up some small pieces as samples for her office earlier in the day. One of her Jewish co-workers popped a piece in her mouth thinking that it was chocolate.